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UK professor explains reason for division over mask mandate, other policies

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Parents and political leaders are at odds following a mask mandate for all Kentucky schools. Wednesday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion with the Kentucky Supreme Court challenging the legality of Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order requiring masks in school.

Masks have been a polarizing issue throughout the pandemic, now coming to the forefront as the new school year begins. It’s another topic that’s taken a political division.

“Almost every controversy, almost every story in the news goes through a political spin cycle,” said Dr. D. Stephen Voss, an associate professor in UK’s political science department. “This state is polarized just like the whole American political system so it’s not surprising that we see the parties squaring off on COVID in a way that the national parties are doing.”

Dr. Voss says typically Americans are very trusting of experts on a particular topic, such as something medical, but there was a switch with the pandemic. He says more people have started listening to politicians and commentators.

“Lately though, trust in institutions has dropped, and it’s dropped to unprecedented levels...trust in universities, trust in the media,” Voss said. “Into that void, has come politicians and commentators who have more influence over issues like health policy.”

It should be noted that while Beshear’s mask mandate has caused political friction, politicians from both sides of the aisle have encouraged vaccinations.

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